After the injury to Trevor Mbakwe, I fully expected this to be somewhat of a “what if?” season for the Gophers. And that certainly appeared to be the case through four conference games, as Minnesota stumbled to a 0-4 start in the Big Ten. But Tubby Smith’s team has responded by winning three straight games, most recently in a stomping of Northwestern at The Barn. And although Minnesota had dropped some close games over its losing streak, the turnaround isn’t simply a matter of fortunate ball bounces:
Ohio State beat Nebraska 79-45 on Saturday night. In the other games, Michigan lost at Arkansas while Michigan State used its efficient offense to power past Purdue 83-58 on Saturday in East Lansing. Michigan State (16-4) shot 60 percent from the field (30-of-50). Draymond Green picked up the Spartans with eight points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists. We put in-game updates and other links in this post.
Michigan State was in command for most of the game against Purdue on Saturday, but late in the second half Branden Dawson threw down an impressive dunk, one of several in the game for the 6-foot-6 Spartans freshman forward. Dawson had a quality shooting game, nailing 6-of-7 shots from the field and scoring 14 points.
The third episode of “The Journey: Big Ten Basketball 2012” airs in its regular spot on TV on Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET but it will debut Saturday night too immediately after the 8 p.m. ET men’s basketball game between Ohio State and Nebraska.
While I wait for some Big Ten team – any Big Ten team – to take charge of this way-crazy, makes-no-sense Big Ten race, it’s time for this week’s 3-pointers from a cornfield somewhere outside Decatur, Illinois, on I-72.
College football players had until Jan. 15 to declare for the NFL Draft, which begins Thursday, April 26 and continues through Saturday, April 28 (get more info at NFL.com). The Big Ten saw five players (Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus, Iowa’s Riley Reiff, Michigan State’s Jerel Worthy and Edwin Baker and Wisconsin’s Peter Konz) opt for the pros, so here’s my quick look at each one along with some handy links.
Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
Michigan and Michigan State played a highly entertaining game that lived up to advance billing, with the Wolverines prevailing by the slimmest of margins. This result flew in the face of the conventional wisdom that Michigan can’t win when its threes aren’t falling, as John Beilein’s team scored quite well despite shooting 29 percent from deep. As it usually does with a Beilein offense, the answer lied in a high conversion rate on twos and a low turnover rate.